Number of hate groups increased nationally in 2017, according to Southern Poverty Law Center report

Shaun Lien/Staff

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California has the highest number of hate groups in the country, according to the Southern Poverty Law Center, or SPLC, Hate Map for 2017, which was released Wednesday.

The Hate Map is an annual report on hate groups across the United States compiled from publications by hate groups, news reports, field sources, and citizen and law enforcement reports.

The number of hate groups in the United States rose in 2017 — the third year in a row — by about 4 percent since 2016 and 22 percent since 2014, according to the SPLC data. This included a 13 percent increase in anti-Muslim groups, a 22 percent increase in neo-Nazi groups and a 57 percent increase in anti-immigrant groups.

Lecia Brooks, outreach director at the SPLC, attributes the continued rise in hate groups to the nativist tone of the Trump campaign, saying “an increase of rhetoric about a particular group of people results in hate and bias crimes that target that group of people.”

Brooks said, however, that while the physicalized presence of hate groups has contributed to the rise of hate crimes in part, it does not account for the rise overall.

While a 2016 FBI report found that Berkeley ranked fifth highest for hate crime occurrences in California, Brooks said this is likely inaccurate because the availability of data depends on police reporting practices, which are based on voluntary self-reporting. Thus, if a city police department self-reports more, Brooks said the city may have higher reports of crime.

Olivia Rempel, lab manager at the campus Human Rights Investigations Lab, said different states and counties have different regulations for what constitutes a hate crime and how to report it. Rempel added that not all police departments report hate crime data to the FBI, and sometimes jurisdictions will not report their hate crime data at all.

Additionally, Rempel said people often do not report hate crimes to the police but added that social media serves as another possible way to report incidents.

“We kind of realized this is a very subjective matter,” Rempel said. “It’s difficult to say something happened with one image, one video, one tweet. (Hate crimes are) very difficult to quantify.”

Rempel emphasized the need for documenting hate crimes that go unreported, citing ProPublica’s Documenting Hate project, which partnered with news publishers and universities, including The Daily Californian and the campus Human Rights Center. The project investigates, digitally verifies and publishes stories about hate crimes, creating a national database.

This increased visibility and coverage may be contributing to a perceived increase in hate and bias incidents, according to Rempel. Brooks added that a possible explanation for increased national counts of hate group chapters may be that hate groups, such as Identity Evropa, have increased their physical presence.

“College campuses have become ground zero for (alt-right) recruitment,” Brooks said. “(Colleges) and universities would do well to familiarize themselves with the hate groups in their area, so they can protect themselves from the influence and potential violence that follows these movements.”

Contact Michele Meltzer at [email protected] and follow her on Twitter at @michele_meltzer.

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  • Grandpa Dino

    The SPLC is one of the most egregious hate groups in the country!

  • lspanker

    The SPLC has been forced to apologize to, and retract names of groups in order to avoid being named as a defendant in more than one libel suit: . Problem here is that the so-called “student journalists” at the Daily Cal are demonstrably incapable of researching both sides of the story.

    (On another note: WTF is up with Daily Cal site these days? I have just ONE window open in Google Chrome on a laptop with 8 GB memory running Win 10 Home, and it’s eating up ~750 MB of memory. If I open up an extra window with NO other major applications running, the damn site grounds my system to a halt. I don’t get this on Berkeleyside or any other local news site.)

    • Jorge Carolinos

      Install adblock or u block.

      ublock has stopped 52 pieces and counting of garbage on this page.

  • flashsteve

    Read this report with more than a ‘grain of salt’. The SPLC is an infamous biased organization. I don’t say that lightly; even some left-wing groups will object to their characterization of black advocacy groups as hate groups. I belong to a long-standing immigration reform group that advocates for return to strict enforcement of immigration laws and use of waivers. Definitely a conservative organization, but nowhere in our literature or website is there any form of racist hate. The SPLC is almost like a ‘fake news’ source, because it produces totally biased information, but has a big megaphone, because it has always been a ‘go to’ source of quote for the lazy drive-by media.

    • Jorge Carolinos

      Splc is a fund raising operation. Its use by the media is just lazy and stupid. You have to remember that daily cal is run by children.

    • Killer Marmot

      I agree. SPLC’s definition of “hate group” is arbitrary and politically skewed.

      For a while, they convinced many that they were a trustworthy judge of what was hate, but that reputation is rapidly dispersing as people have noticed some bizarre entries in their list of “haters.” A notable example is Ayaan Hirsi Ali. A notable omission is the Antifa, people who unabashedly promote violence in furtherance of their political agenda. I guess being left wing means you’re automatically not a hater.